Happening Hubs: What to Do on Your Business Trip to Portland, Ore.

In today's mobile workplace, deal making and hand shaking may take you all over the world. So what's happening in travel hubs between business meetings and convention sessions? From major metropolises to unsung cities, we've got some tips for what to do – and what to miss – on your next business trip in some of the U.S.'s "happening hubs".

Hipsters discovered the cheap food, natural beauty and unapologetically quirky spirit of Portland, Ore., years ago. Now, a new breed of cool kids has been flooding the city: business travelers. Last year, 7.9 million visitors descended upon this charming West Coast city, which has quickly become a go-to hub for conventions, meetings and business deals in the Pacific Northwest. So how do road warriors get around this up-and-coming hub, while discovering what the city’s motto – “Keep Portland weird” – actually means? Here’s our guide on how to take time to smell the roses in the Rose City:

 

To and from PDX

 

Portland boasts one of the most efficient public transportation systems on the West Coast. From Portland International Airport (PDX), hop on the Metropolitan Area Express light rail – commonly referred to as the MAX – and you’ll be downtown in 38 minutes for $2.50. If you don’t have that kind of time, a taxi will whiz downtown in 20 minutes – expect to pay about $25 to get into the Rose City from PDX, which is located about 12 miles northeast of the city center.

Most hotels for business travelers center around PDX or downtown by the Oregon Convention Center. Expect that most of these hotels have shuttle services, however unless you have a lot of luggage, consider taking the MAX – it’s clean, easy and a uniquely Portland experience.

 

Ring around the Rose Quarter

 

The Oregon Convention Center is located in northern corner of the city, known as the Rose Quarter – it’s the heart of all things meetings, shopping and basketball. You might be able to catch a Portland Trailblazers game at the Rose Garden or Coldplay or even Adele at the Memorial Coliseum next door. If you want to indulge in some sales tax-free shopping, Portland’s Lloyd Center mall is also down the street.

But if you’re keen in getting some exercise after a long day of meetings, join the throngs of health-conscious Portlanders on the Eastbank Esplanade. The Convention Center is literally steps away from this lovely running, biking or walking trail, which parallels downtown Portland for 1.5 miles south along the Willamette River.

 

Maximize your time with the MAX

 

Getting around a mid-size city like Portland is a breeze, especially with the light rail. The green, red and blue lines go through the Rose Quarter. All three offer a quick ride across the Willamette River into the central business district.

If you want to experience some of that “weirdness” Portland wears on its sleeve, check out the Portland Saturday Market (held Saturdays and Sundays, despite the name) along the Skidmore Fountain all year long. Artists, musicians and students mingle in this tourist-friendly spot.

If you follow your nose a short walk further south, you might find yourself in bacon maple bar heaven. Be prepared to stand in line for the city’s famous VooDoo Doughnuts, located in a hole-in-the-wall in Old Town. To go with it, grab a cup of Stumptown Coffee – locally roasted to perfection. Portlanders take their doughnuts and caffeine seriously. So should you.

Getting funky with food and books

If you have time to travel farther along the MAX, consider taking the yellow line to Mississippi Avenue, a funky haven of coffee shops, microbreweries, art, clothing and some really good pizza. Mississippi’s food carts are a great place to grab a cheap, tasty bite. With nearly 500 carts congregated in small parking lots all over the city, you can enjoy anything from dim sum to latkes. Dining with locals on a picnic bench is a great way to get an eclectic slice of Portland’s quirky culture.

If quirk doesn’t appeal, try jumping on the Portland Streetcar and head where the sophisticates hang – the Pearl District. People flock to this area for the sushi, the shopping and art. In fact, galleries throw open their doors for the First Thursday Art Walk every month and artists line the streets selling their wares.

The Pearl District is also home to Oregon’s most beloved bookstore: Powell’s. With four floors of titles – new and used – Powell’s is a bookworm’s paradise. Categories are color-coded and authors often stop by for book signings or a latte in the downstairs café. Give yourself plenty of time – Powell’s “City of Books” is heaven on earth for bibliophiles.

Have a tip for what to do in Portlandia? Share it below in the comments or tweets us at @Concur.  

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